This past weekend, I attended Annie’s List Candidate Training 101 with my daughter. According to their website, “Annie’s List is a diverse coalition of political professionals, non-profit executives, policy experts, former candidates and elected officials, major donors, attorneys and more, all dedicated to changing the face of power in Texas politics – and thereby combating the assault on issues of most importance to women and their families – by recruiting, training and supporting women candidates across the state.” Annie’s List staff posed the question to us, should women be in politics?
My daughter, Megan, majored in political science and history at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. She recently interned at Emily’s List, a national organization similar to Annie’s List. Currently, Megan works for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C. Before Megan, I rarely paid attention to politics. Between Megan and studying public health in my doctoral program and learning the impact of politics on health care, I have suddenly become very interested in politics.
After Senator Wendy Davis’ historic filibuster regarding H.R. 1797, I wrote a paper in my Ethics course on the impact of that bill now signed into law during special session. Despite the focus of the law on abortion, the law stands poised to consequently shut down numerous women’s clinics throughout the state that perform not only abortions but additional women’s health services.
At the same time the new legislation is claiming to benefit women’s health, consequences of the legislation appear to limit access to essential reproductive care and screenings. This ultimately will cause more harm to the uninsured population of women who desperately depend on these services.
Having grown up in the demographic standing to be impacted and been a victim of sexual assault at an early age, my interest in politics has deepened. Education played a key role in my escape from these circumstances. Yet, education is another pivotal subject when one talks about politics and women. Funding cuts in education have increased the difficulty for women to rise out of low-income and receive the health care they deserve.
Limiting access to health care and education concerns me both as a woman and a registered dietitian. Doing so may limit the only access for low-income women to nutrition and fitness education and divert what little disposable income available from feeding themselves and their children healthy foods to prevent future health problems.
My answer to the question is yes. Women should be in politics to defend and further their rights while protecting those who cannot speak for themselves. Will I run for office? After I finish my degree, I just might.